Guestblog from Open Government Partnership by Paul Maassen
In early 2020, OGP started looking for new candidates to fill three seats in the OGP Civil Society Steering Committee. The list of candidates this year was particularly strong and we are grateful to the impressive civil society leadership OGP can rely on. Following a thorough selection process, we are pleased to announce that Lysa John (Secretary General, CIVICUS), Stephanie Muchai (East Africa Lead on Open Contracting, Hivos), and Blair Glencorse (Founder and Executive Director, Accountability Lab), are joining the OGP Steering Committee starting October 1, 2020. They will serve on the Steering Committee for three years.
To support the Civil Society Steering Committee members, Anabel Cruz (Director, Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo, Uruguay) and Olúseun Onígbińdé (Director, BudgIT, Nigeria) were appointed as additional members with a term of one year. Their particular regional and thematic expertise will add great value to the work of the Steering Committee and provide extra bandwidth and perspectives from civil society.
These five civil society leaders join the Steering Committee at a critical time, as countries around the world continue to struggle with COVID-19’s detrimental public health and economic impacts. From working with governments and civil society to ensure they adapt open gov approaches to their COVID-19 response and recovery mechanisms to offering support to those taking their co-creation process online, OGP’s mission is as relevant today as it was before the pandemic. Transparency, accountability and participation are the founding principles of OGP – so during the selection we listened and engaged with the community the Civil Society Steering Committee serves.
More than 100 people from the OGP civil society community joined the candidates in webinars to discuss regional challenges in areas such as civic space, gender and inclusion, and leveraging open government at the local level.
We heard concerns that participatory democracy hasn’t been embraced fully in some countries and some are even criminalizing dissent and posing significant threats to media freedoms. As we continue to make sure measures that have been taken to restrict freedoms to curb contagion are proportionate, scrutinized, and time-bound, the need for enhanced collaboration between civil society and governments is a key priority.
A strong civil society is a prerequisite for enhanced collaboration, but candidates noted that all too often we are witnessing devolving engagement as a result of limited resources and capacity to engage other groups. With the help of our Steering Committee, OGP will focus on providing support to civil society as we anticipate the pandemic to affect funding, priorities and available resources across the sector.
Gender was the fastest growing policy area in 2019 in OGP. As of today, OGP members have made 127 commitments that include gender and inclusion perspectives, from interventions to reduce gender-based violence to initiatives to increase women-owned businesses’ access to public procurement bids. But there is still much to be done. The candidates noted that we need to continue to harness the collective voices of youth, women, people with disabilities and other represented groups. This means reaching out to individuals in those groups and going beyond elite and in-city actors. They also proposed thinking outside the box and working with for example artists networks and the private sector.
OGP recognizes that citizens interact most closely with government at the local level, which is why the Steering Committee Co-Chairs made scaling OGP Local a priority for this year. The incoming Steering Committee members underscored the importance of engaging organizations and government institutions subnationally and providing avenues for communities to enhance their open gov efforts and for everyday citizens to be more involved in open government processes.
As OGP reaches its ten-year anniversary and continues to support its members both in government and civil society in these unprecedented times, the need for proactive, diverse, and effective leadership is even more important. We believe the selected candidates bring a wealth of experience that will, alongside the other members of the OGP Steering Committee, make the Partnership stronger and will help guide OGP on the right path as it tackles the challenges ahead.
For more information about the selection process please refer to this page.